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Skier Death at Breckenridge

bdfreetuna

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keep the faith
Wonder how long it's going to be an option to ski without a helmet.

Tough to wear one on hot spring days, but I give it no more than 5 years before helmet policies become commonplace if not universal.
 

VTKilarney

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Should we have a master thread for these posts, especially if we are now including deaths from out west?

I have mixed feelings about these posts. On the one hand, I think that they are a valuable reminder to everyone to ski safely. But on the other hand, they seem a little tabloid, especially since I question how many people really change their behavior because of these posts.
 

BenedictGomez

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I'm all for wearing a helmet, and I think it's foolish not to, but in general, IMO most "skier deaths" would not be prevented by wearing a helmet. That said, this appears to be the exception to that generalization given the skull fracture. He was 47 years old too, so he's from the age cohort that grew up skiing without a helmet.
 

BenedictGomez

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I have mixed feelings about these posts. On the one hand, I think that they are a valuable reminder to everyone to ski safely. But on the other hand, they seem a little tabloid, especially since I question how many people really change their behavior because of these posts.

I've never viewed changing behaviour as the point of these posts. I for one appreciate these posts, as sad as they are. Not out of morbid fascination, but because the niche subject of ski safety/medicine, etc... while boring for many, interests me in much the same way that ski lift mechanics/technology is boring for me, but is interesting to others on here.
 

dlague

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Should we have a master thread for these posts, especially if we are now including deaths from out west?

I have mixed feelings about these posts. On the one hand, I think that they are a valuable reminder to everyone to ski safely. But on the other hand, they seem a little tabloid, especially since I question how many people really change their behavior because of these posts.
BTW deaths out west or south or whereever have always been posted - nothing new! Do a search and see for your self.

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Siliconebobsquarepants

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BTW deaths out west or south or whereever have always been posted - nothing new! Do a search and see for your self.

Sent from my SM-G930P using AlpineZone mobile app

I think a Ski Safety category would be good to have with maybe subheading "Deaths" . We in the East don't see the near the avalanche deaths the west does but still could benefit from other accident analysis.

Might see mountains requiring helmets soon as well as banning backpacks. I'm a fan of helmets now after 2nd use slid down an icy slope that would have scalped the back of my head.
 

dlague

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Helmets are increasing in popularity adoption rate of 70% amongst adults and 90% with children according to National Ski Areas Association. So that number is improving. If I recall all deaths so far this season have been from people with no helmets. Unfortunately we do not hear of incidents where the helmet saved a life.

Also several states have proposed laws that would require anyone 18 and under to have a helmet and if caught without it would result in fines.

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cdskier

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Those are definitely good numbers. I'd be curious to know what the rationale is for people that don't wear helmets. I find them to be more comfortable than hats and would never dream of skiing without one anymore.
 

uphillklimber

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I wear a helmet 100% of the time, less Santa Sunday, at the River. Yes, I do feel naked without it. But we are skiing on wide open greens then. Clearly, I believe in helmets.

But......

I am not sold that a helmet would have saved this person or any others with head injuries. If they are going fast enough to severely fracture their skull, just how much will the helmet matter. There is a big hole in the front for their face. They unbuckle dead people in car crashes all the time.

However, I have seen where it made a difference. In my case, somehow, I fell over backwards, skis still on, slamming my head into the hard pack. I was okay. Sold. Also watched as my son was snowboarding up to a boarder cross gate with his brother, he hit some ice, careened into the metal gate, grabbed it with his hand, spun around and smashed the back of his head into the gate. His head was okay, but he broke his thumb grabbing the gate. Earlier, in the car, my boys asked me if they had to wear helmets. I thought for a minute how to answer, and I said, 'let's see, you guys are going snowboarding, YEAH YOU'RE GONNA WEAR HELMETS!' My son actually thanked me for making him wear a helmet.

Clearly, helmets serve a real purpose and provide an additional level of safety, and do prevent injuries. But when someone reaches speed enough to severely fracture a skull, will a thin layer of plastic and a half inch of styrofoam truly matter? Don't get me wrong here, at that point in time, I want anything I can get to help save a life. But would that have mattered in this case?
 

cdskier

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Yes, you're absolutely right that at higher speeds they may not matter. Current standards still only do testing of protection at approximately 15mph. I'm sure many accidents involve speeds greater than that. And even if a helmet prevents the physical skull fracture itself, you still have the problem of what happens inside your head with that much force during a sudden impact.

But I'd still rather take any potential chance at having something that will help. Not saying it would have made a difference in this case, but even a 1% chance of helping is better than nothing.
 

Jully

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Yes, you're absolutely right that at higher speeds they may not matter. Current standards still only do testing of protection at approximately 15mph. I'm sure many accidents involve speeds greater than that. And even if a helmet prevents the physical skull fracture itself, you still have the problem of what happens inside your head with that much force during a sudden impact.

But I'd still rather take any potential chance at having something that will help. Not saying it would have made a difference in this case, but even a 1% chance of helping is better than nothing.

And its a lot more than 1%... I've never had the misfortune of cracking a helmet myself, but I've seen racing friends crack their helmet in a fall before. They walked away with a concussion, but without the helmet that literally split apart, it would have been a lot worse.
 

buellski

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I've never had the misfortune of cracking a helmet myself, but I've seen racing friends crack their helmet in a fall before. They walked away with a concussion

My daughter took a spill at Bretton Woods this past weekend and cracked her helmet. I didn't see it, but my wife was skiing behind her and was pretty upset by the fall my daughter took. Nothing more than a minor concussion and some sore muscles from the fall. I'm certainly glad she was wearing her helmet.
 

dlague

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I wear a helmet 100% of the time, less Santa Sunday, at the River. Yes, I do feel naked without it. But we are skiing on wide open greens then. Clearly, I believe in helmets.

But......

I am not sold that a helmet would have saved this person or any others with head injuries. If they are going fast enough to severely fracture their skull, just how much will the helmet matter. There is a big hole in the front for their face. They unbuckle dead people in car crashes all the time.

However, I have seen where it made a difference. In my case, somehow, I fell over backwards, skis still on, slamming my head into the hard pack. I was okay. Sold. Also watched as my son was snowboarding up to a boarder cross gate with his brother, he hit some ice, careened into the metal gate, grabbed it with his hand, spun around and smashed the back of his head into the gate. His head was okay, but he broke his thumb grabbing the gate. Earlier, in the car, my boys asked me if they had to wear helmets. I thought for a minute how to answer, and I said, 'let's see, you guys are going snowboarding, YEAH YOU'RE GONNA WEAR HELMETS!' My son actually thanked me for making him wear a helmet.

Clearly, helmets serve a real purpose and provide an additional level of safety, and do prevent injuries. But when someone reaches speed enough to severely fracture a skull, will a thin layer of plastic and a half inch of styrofoam truly matter? Don't get me wrong here, at that point in time, I want anything I can get to help save a life. But would that have mattered in this case?
My point exactly! May not have saved them, but at least that is a percentage chance in your favor if you do have one on. I will take that any day!

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Jully

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Or flip it the other way and its this: you are more likely to die from a crash if you do not wear a helmet.
 

BenedictGomez

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Current standards still only do testing of protection at approximately 15mph. I'm sure many accidents involve speeds greater than that.

One of my brothers is a safety expert, I'm going to have to ask him to look into this, because it makes no sense to me that we ski at 30mph and wear helmets rated for 12mph to 20mph (or whatever it is). I wonder what the point is for that variance? I'd hate to think that it's comfort, but my guess is it's comfort (i.e. decreased comfort begets decreased sales). I wonder how much heavier a ski helmet would need to be to be rated up to a more realistic skier speed, like say 30mph.
 

benski

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One of my brothers is a safety expert, I'm going to have to ask him to look into this, because it makes no sense to me that we ski at 30mph and wear helmets rated for 12mph to 20mph (or whatever it is). I wonder what the point is for that variance? I'd hate to think that it's comfort, but my guess is it's comfort (i.e. decreased comfort begets decreased sales). I wonder how much heavier a ski helmet would need to be to be rated up to a more realistic skier speed, like say 30mph.

I think it is unlikely they you will hit your head at the speed you were skiing before loosing control since most accidents start with some skidding.
 

cdskier

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One of my brothers is a safety expert, I'm going to have to ask him to look into this, because it makes no sense to me that we ski at 30mph and wear helmets rated for 12mph to 20mph (or whatever it is). I wonder what the point is for that variance? I'd hate to think that it's comfort, but my guess is it's comfort (i.e. decreased comfort begets decreased sales). I wonder how much heavier a ski helmet would need to be to be rated up to a more realistic skier speed, like say 30mph.

Would be interesting to know more. One of the articles I was reading said something along the lines of the protection required increasing exponentially compared to the speed. The example it gave was that if you double the speed from 10 to 20, you now need to increase the protection by a factor of 4. And if you go from 20 to 40mph, you now need to increase protection of a helmet that is rated for 10 mph by a factor of 16!
 

Whitey

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One of my brothers is a safety expert, I'm going to have to ask him to look into this, because it makes no sense to me that we ski at 30mph and wear helmets rated for 12mph to 20mph (or whatever it is). I wonder what the point is for that variance? I'd hate to think that it's comfort, but my guess is it's comfort (i.e. decreased comfort begets decreased sales). I wonder how much heavier a ski helmet would need to be to be rated up to a more realistic skier speed, like say 30mph.

Not really possible (but I am no doctor). The NFL is wrestling with this now. I did have to do a lot of research about concussions because of some family incidents. After a certain speed/impact force your brain rattles around inside your skull like a marble inside a balloon and that does the damage. It's the sudden/rapid deceleration that causes your brain to squash against the inside of your skull that basically bruises the hell out of your brain and causes it to swell. Swelling inside of the finite space that is your skull is fatal or does a lot of the damage. That's why when they get head trauma people in the hospitals quickly after the incident they basically cut open their skull so as to relieve/avoid that swelling pressure. Sometimes the blunt force trauma is so bad that it doesn't take the swelling to do the damage/kill - the brain damage is enough (think Dale Earnhardt).

The only way to combat those forces would be to wear something that is so padded on the outside and inside that you have a giant ball on your head (think of the NFL concussion helmets with the large padding added to the outside of the helmet).

Long story short - eliminating the rapid/sudden deceleration is the only way to significantly reduce these incidents. That's controlled by the skier, not the helmet.
 
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